Hello, and welcome to the longest-running GamesIndustry.biz column that has never before appeared on GamesIndustry.biz!
It's actually been almost a decade since This Week in The Business started running on Kotaku as an easily digestible collection of quotes and statistics pulled together with brief descriptions intended for a consumer audience. After a lengthy run there, it moved to our sister site USgamer in 2019 under the slightly shorter moniker "This Week in Business."
Much to our dismay, USgamer was shut down last month. But we were still pretty fond of the column, so the decision was made to finally bring it home and introduce it to our actual readers. It tends to be a little less formal than our day-to-day coverage and a little more opinionated.
We're also prone to dropping tangentially related videos into the column to break up the page visually. Oooh, here comes one now.
Seeing as this is the first week of the year, games industry news was a bit slow, consisting largely of recaps of 2020 and looks ahead to 2021. In both cases, the discussions are revolving around the ongoing pandemic, how it has already changed the face of the industry once, and just how much a hoped-for global recovery will change that face back.
We'll doubtless be chewing over that question for a while to come, and we can add it to the stack of ongoing industry discourse that was well-represented elsewhere this week, including app store monopolies, loot boxes, unions, and how much responsibility platforms are willing to take for the content they host.
STAT | 50% - The growth in the number of mobile gamers in the UK between March and July last year, according to a Facebook study about mobile gaming during the first wave of the pandemic.
QUOTE | "It is inevitable that once the vaccines are rolled out to more people and life returns to some sort of normality that gamers will look to pursue more out-of-home activities, but I still expect there to be a positive longtail of impact from pandemic usage. Another area of ongoing change will be the increased consumption of digital content and a more rapid decline of physical media sales." - Ampere analyst Piers Harding-Rolls believes the pandemic will have a lasting effect on the games industry, just one of many predictions in our annual round-up of analyst predictions for the year ahead. (We also had our panel revisit their predictions for 2020, which were actually more on-point than expected given the whole COVID-19 thing.)
STAT | "The pandemic will pass, and high street shops will reopen, but its legacy will reverberate for years to come. In times of uncertainty, familiar brands often do well as people seek comfort in what they know." - Industry consultants Sam Naji and Damian Abrahams suggest the industry's physical-to-digital shift may slow down in the coming years.
QUOTE | "Minecraft Earth was designed around free movement and collaborative play - two things that have become near impossible in the current global situation." - Mojang explains why it's shutting down Minecraft Earth, the mobile AR game it launched in November of 2019.
QUOTE | "This is a personal view, but the concept of surprise and delight vs gambling... on a continuum, they're a long way from each other. You buy or grind your way up to getting a gold pack, you open it up, and you're either happy or you think it's a crappy pack." - Former Liverpool FC CEO and former EA Sports president Peter Moore explains that loot boxes like FIFA Ultimate Team packs are totally different from gambling because with Ultimate Team, you put your money down because there's a chance to get something you want, and you are either happy or disappointed by the result... Hold on, I think I have to re-read the article...
Ah, yes, here it is.
QUOTE | "You're always getting something. It's not like you opened it and there's no players in there." - Moore, explaining that casinos could become something other than gambling if they just gave losing players a fraction of their money back in some form, like free drinks or upgraded hotel suites or something.
QUOTE | "When it comes to addressing the deeper structural problems in this marketplace that threaten both gamers and developers, the Commission will need to use all of its tools - competition, consumer protection, and data protection - to combat middlemen mischief, including by the largest gaming gatekeepers." - Democratic FTC commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter warn that the government may be more hands-on with the games industry in light of Apple and Google's app store gatekeeping, going so far as to say their steep cuts are driving developers to "harmful practices" like loot boxes.
QUOTE | "The Raw Fury contract is fundamentally transparent. But it's got some barbs, for sure -- often for contingencies that are unlikely to happen, and have probably never been triggered." - GameDiscoverCo's Simon Carless digs into Raw Fury's recently released standard developer contract, as well as the concerns and criticisms developers have raised about it.
QUOTE | "It's far more important for game developers, no matter where they come from, to understand 'the future' than 'the West' or 'the East.' In order to gain a bigger chance of success, you have to make games that players feel are one step ahead of the best game on the current market."- Vincent Gao, international director of Honor of Kings and Call of Duty: Mobile creator TiMi Studios, downplays the idea that a game has to be targeted for one specific market.
QUOTE | "Our goal is to transform every aspect of your everyday life into entertainment." - Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai, 10 years ago this month, doing maybe not the greatest job of managing expectations for the company's upcoming handheld, the PlayStation Vita.
QUOTE | "We are responsible for the technology that we bring into the world, and recognize that its implications reach far beyond Alphabet. We will work with those affected by our technology to ensure that it serves the public good." - In announcing the formation of a union for all employees of the Google parent company, the Alphabet Workers Union makes clear that it is interested in more than just ensuring people are paid enough.
QUOTE | "We've made the decision to remove the PogChamp emote following statements from the face of the emote encouraging further violence after what took place in the Capitol today." - Twitch explains why it pulled an emote featuring the surprised face of professional Street Fighter player Ryan 'Gootecks' Gutierrez after he called for civil unrest over the death of a woman killed while supporters of President Trump stormed the US Capitol in an effort to prevent legislators from certifying the results of November's election, in which Americans voted Trump out of office.
QUOTE | "Given the current extraordinary circumstances and the President's incendiary rhetoric, we believe this is a necessary step to protect our community and prevent Twitch from being used to incite further violence." - Twitch explains why it disabled President Trump's Twitch channel on Thursday.
QUOTE | "A number of owner-directors recently determined that the time is right for them to sell their shares, and [Next Level Games] therefore began exploring potential sale transactions." - In announcing the acquisition of the Vancouver-based Luigi's Mansion franchise developer, Nintendo says it either had to pay up or risk not being able to use them in the future.